Spades (suit)

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The suit of Spades from a French-pattern pack in the ranking used for Écarté

Spades ♠ form one of the four suits of playing cards in the standard French deck. It is the same shape as the leaf symbol in German-suited cards but looks like a black heart turned upside down with a stalk at its base. It symbolises the pike or halberd, two medieval weapons.

In French the suit of Spades is known as the Pique and in German as the Pik. It corresponds to the suit of Leaves Bay gras.svg (Laub, Grün, Schippen or, in Bavaria, Gras) in the German suited playing cards. In Switzerland, the suit is known as Schuufle ("shovel") and in many German regions, e.g. the Rhineland as Schüppe/Schippe ("shovel").

In Bridge, Spades rank as the highest suit. In Skat and similar games, it is the second-highest suit.


The French name for this suit, pique ("pike"), meant, in the 14th century, a weapon formed by an iron spike placed at the end of a pike.[1] For playing cards, the term may have been coined by analogy with the Latin symbol from which it is derived, the sword.

In other languages, the term is usually derived from pique: German: Pik, Spanish: picas, Romanian: pică, Russian: пики, Czech: piky, Italian: picche etc. Sometimes it is an adaptation of "sword", hence the English name, Spades, and the Portuguese espadas.


The spade symbol is a very stylized spearhead shape, pointing upwards, the bottom widening into two arcs of a circle and sweeping towards the centre to then form a sort of foot.

Generally, spades are black. They form one of the two major suits in Bridge (with Hearts). In the official Skat tournament deck, spades are green, assuming the color of their German-deck equivalent.

The following gallery shows the spades in a 52-card deck of French playing cards. Not shown is the Knight of Spades used in Tarot card games:

Four-colour packs[edit]

The four aces of a four-colour pack; here, Spades are black.

Four-colour packs are sometimes used in tournaments or online.[2] In four-colour packs Spades may be:

  • black ♠ in English Bridge and Poker packs and French and Swiss four-colour packs,[3]
  • green ♠ in German Skat tournament packs[4] or
  • blue ♠ in some American Poker decks.


The symbol ♠ is already in the computer code set CP437 and therefore also part of Windows WGL4. In Unicode a black ♠ and a white ♤ Spade are defined:

Symbol Unicode Entity in HTML
U+2660 BLACK SPADE SUIT ♠ or ♠


  1. ^ "Pique". Centre national de ressources textuelles et lexicales.
  2. ^ Allan & Mackay 2007, p. 155.
  3. ^ Gallery 3 - Sizes, Shapes and Colours at Retrieved 4 Aug 2020.
  4. ^ Gallery 3 - Sizes, Shapes and Colours at Retrieved 4 Aug 2020.


  • Allan, Elkan and Hannah Mackay (2007). The Poker Encyclopedia. London: Portico. ISBN 978-1906-03209-8